‘World-beating’ coronavirus contact tracing system in England crashes under strain of workers trying to log in

Matt Hancock in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament.

Matt Hancock in the House of Commons. Photograph: Jessica Taylor/UK Parliament. - Credit: Archant

A website which is used to track people infected with coronavirus as part of the government's 'world-beating' contract tracing system has unexpectedly crashed in England, sparking confusion amongst tracers employed to help with the efforts.

Tracers who registered two months ago have also had their accounts expire, Sky News reports.

A Tier 2 Covid-19 tracer said that anyone using a Amazon Web Services (AWS) account activated on May 13 is being blocked from logging in.

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AWS is the central piece of IT infrastructure that supports the coronavirus track-and-trace system across England. It was set up by NHS England and customer management business Sitel.

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Although the total number of workers locked out is still unknown, one tracer who spoke to NHS Professionals was told 'a lot of workers' had contacted the agency about the issue.

NHS Professionals is a staffing agency that supplies tens of thousands of doctors and nurses to UK hospitals.

A number of staff have also reported difficulties logging in on a Facebook group chat for tracers.

One user wrote: 'Just tried to log on for my shift and AWS is saying my password has expired and I need to contact an administrator. Does anyone know if this is Sitel and on which number I should call please?'

Another person urged others to get in touch with NHS Professionals to ensure they got paid.

The password reset site run by Sitel has also crashed, a source told Sky News.

'For anyone having problems logging onto AWS this morning because of their password being expired: You need to contact NHSP on the live chat to let them know you are having problems and they will make a note on your profile so that you still get paid,' they said.

'I have just asked if everyone needs to do this and they said yes,' they added.

Those that have contacted Sitel have been told to wait and that due to of security reasons, could not reset their password over the phone.

At the time of publication Sitel and Public Health England had yet to respond to requests for comment from the media, but Amazon denied its AWS infrastructure was at fault.

Under the system, Tier works are known to have clinical backgrounds. Tier 3 workers are call handlers who don't have any medical experience while Tier 1 tracers are Public Health England employees.

In May, Boris Johnson claimed at PMQs that the UK would have a 'world-beating' system for test, track and trace.

As of May 27, 25,000 people have been recruited as part of the government trace-and-track programme which is supposed to track people who may have come into contact with someone who has coronavirus.

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